My son, age 12, walked me face-first into a telephone pole. I forgave him.
This is a story about forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding.
The family is walking, with our friend Betsy, towards a pizza dinner.
Jane and Betsy are chatting and I’m goofing with the kids.
I put Emmett’s 12-year-old head under my left hand and Annie’s 10-year-old head under my right. I close my eyes. And I walk.
One foot in front of the other.
Tentatively, and then at a regular clip. I remember thinking this is how living things adapt—creatures that lose sight often adapt to new ways of getting around.
I remember thinking about Krishnamurti—and hearing him laugh in my mind—as I thought that this altered state of awareness might help me unpack his koan to learn to think without words.
Next thing I know, I am on the ground—in an empty parking lot 50 feet away from the curb.
Jane is by my side.
I am crouching, holding my head.
I am dazed.
I see a man come out of the furniture store with an ice pack and a towel.
The severity of the situation dawns on me. Strangers getting involved and a lack of memory are not good signs.
I hear Jane ask me if I can see.
I want to say, “I can see.”
But words just aren’t coming out.
I hear her ask again, “Can you see?”
From the tone of her voice, I can assume she is trying not to sound alarmed and she has probably asked a few times before this time that I finally heard her. I make eye contact and nod.
My voice comes. Snotty. “Of course I can see.”
Then the pain hits. It’s not my head. Not yet. It’s my heart.
I see the kids are far up the block with Betsy, cautiously watching from a distance.
I weep and ask, “How could they? How could they have done that? How could they?”
When Jane and I get to Hotlips Pizza on Sandy Boulevard, Emmett is outside, gaze down, pacing.
He is flitting like a bird that had flown into a window.
I approach and start with, “Em, you know the first rule of the Mayer family, right?”
My tone is as open. His eyes glance quickly at mine and then dart away, as though he expected my gaze might crush him.
I continue with the words he knows: “The first rule of the Mayer family, Everyone makes mistakes; everyone gets to learn.”
He looks like he is going to puke. “It’s ok, Bub… it’s on me. I shouldn’t have trusted you with that. Lesson learned.”
He: frantic: “I didn’t think you would get hurt.”
Me: “I know. I know.”
He: “I just thought it would be funny.”
Me: “I get that. I understand. It wasn’t malice. It was poor judgment. I understand.”
Forgiving people for being who they are means accepting and understanding that they will not act as you wish they did. But as they do.